Florida

Mom said she was sleeping when her two young boys drowned in a pool. Cops say she lied

Wildline Joseph, the 23-year-old mother of two young boys who drowned in a North Lauderdale community pool in May, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Wildline Joseph, the 23-year-old mother of two young boys who drowned in a North Lauderdale community pool in May, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Broward County Sheriff's Office

Wildline Joseph was on her phone texting when her two young sons drowned in an apartment pool with no one watching them for at least two hours, a warrant released this week said.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies said she lied about being asleep at the time — and also lied about her history with the Department of Children and Families.

Joseph and her boyfriend, John Lynn Jr., were arrested last week over not providing the “care, supervision and services necessary” when Ja’kye Joseph, 6, and his brother Branario Minto, 5, drowned May 22 at the Silver Palms Condominiums, near their home.

The boys were submerged for an hour and 43 minutes. They were unsupervised for 2 hours and 6 minutes.

One boy tried to save the other, and ended up dead, too.

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Their grandmother went looking for the boys and found their bodies in the pool, according to an arrest warrant that detailed the tragic events leading to their deaths and how Joseph’s phone records show she was awake during it all.

Deputies gave a detailed timeline based on surveillance video from the moment the boys started playing around 3 p.m. to just before 10 p.m., when Joseph sent a text to presumably her boss saying, “I’m not coming to work this week at all my kids drown in the pool.”

At around 7:16 p.m., Ja’Kye Joseph and Branario Minto run outside to play at their North Lauderdale apartment complex, the timeline showed.

Ten minutes later, the boys jump the fence of a closed community pool and start to play in the shallow end trying to grab pool toys.

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Ja’kye Joseph and Branario Minto CBS4

At that moment, the boys had been unsupervised for 25 minutes.

“At 7:40:51 p.m., six-year-old [Ja’Kye Joseph] jumps into the deep end of the pool. He cannot swim and drowns,” the warrant said.

Branario gets into the shallow end of the pool, “not sure what to do.” In an attempt to save his brother’s life, he gets out and heads over to the other end. He tries to move a pole next to him so he can grab it. That doesn’t work, deputies said.

So, Branario gets in the water.

“Five-year-old [Branario Minto] runs to the east side of the pool, where [Ja’Kye] is closer to and gets in, in an attempt to save his brother. As [Branario] lets go of the pool side to grab [Ja’Kye], [Branario] cannot swim and immediately goes under water and drowns,” the warrant said.

It wasn’t until about 9:20 that anyone starts looking for the boys, deputies said. Their grandmother finds their bodies in the pool five minutes later. She runs for help and yells at the boys’ great-grandmother, who knocks on Joseph’s door.

Lynn Jr. dives in and takes their bodies out at 9:27 and begins performing CPR, deputes said.

By then it was too late.

What was Joseph, their mother, doing during this time? She told authorities she was sleeping. Deputies found otherwise.

The boys drowned at 7:43 p.m. and Joseph told deputies she fell asleep at 5 p.m. and was still asleep when tragedy struck. When detectives looked through her phone and tracked its usage, they wrote:

“Her cellular telephone records show: there are 16 times that Wildline Jospeh’s cellular device was unlocked and used, 9 items are searched and 6 SIMS (3 text messages sent and 3 text messages received) during the time frame she advised she was sleeping and her two children were unsupervised and drowned.”

Deputies also said she lied about her history with child services. When she was asked if she was involved in any Child Protection Investigative Services cases, she said no.

Deputies said that CPIS reports several cases involving Joseph.

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In October 2015, the warrant says Joseph tested positive for flakka and her kids were removed from her care. In August 2016, Joseph recorded a video with guns with her kids running around. After that the kids were put in foster care.

In March 2017, Joseph was reunified with her children after she completed parenting classes. Since then there were four more cases including one which “included a report stating she was always sleeping while they were playing outside unattended.”

Joseph’s listed attorney, Peter Schoenthal, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Joseph and Lynn face two counts of aggravated manslaughter of a child. She is being held on $500,000 bond. He is being held on no bond.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.
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